England are at a loss to work out why they keep putting themselves under pressure with poor batting at the start of Test tours.
For the fourth successive time today, they began an away trip by being bowled out for under 200.
In the United Arab Emirates against Pakistan and in Sri Lanka last winter, then in India before Christmas, they posted scores in the 190s on the way to defeat in the first Test.
In the two most recent examples, England managed to fight back for a drawn series and then a remarkable and historic victory in India.
After folding for just 167 inside two sessions at the University Oval - and then being powerless to stop New Zealand responding with 131 for none by stumps - once more, they have ensured they must do things the hard way.
Jonathan Trott top-scored on a day when seamer Neil Wagner and debutant slow left-armer Bruce Martin shared eight wickets.
But the number three was also among at least seven batsmen - including four specialists - who contributed significantly to their own dismissal on a blameless pitch.
Afterwards, he admitted he and his team-mates are none the wiser as to any root cause of their repeat offences.
"We put ourselves under pressure with our performance with the bat," he said.
"I don't think it's a lack of effort; we made a conscious effort to start the series really well.
"We looked at that and thought 'we've always been on the back foot at the start of the series' and we tried to correct that today - and we didn't get it right.
"You can't get away from the fact."
Trott could only scratch his head when asked why familiar failings had resurfaced.
"I think the guys have worked really hard in (the tour match defeat in) Queenstown, and here - and it just wasn't our day," he added.
"We've all felt really good, and you can't fault the guys' commitment in the nets to get ready for a big series like this.
"We (just) didn't bat very well. I'm sure that was pretty obvious."
Trott is hoping England have simply got their worst performance out of the way early. "It was a good wicket, and we have got to fight our way back into this cricket match," he said.
"We've got a big three days ahead of us.
"We've faced big challenges like this before. This is going to be a good one if we can pull it off."
The recurring theme in England's innings was of batsmen trying to dominate, even as wickets were falling, failing to keep the ball down and finding willing catchers.
"It was just poor shots ... and misjudgment maybe ... that we got ourselves out with," said Trott.
"The shots were on, but we just didn't execute them right.
"I think every batsmen put their hands up and said 'we didn't play the way we should have'."
Collective acknowledgment of mistakes was therefore the order of a day in which England's hosts made none - their debutant opener Hamish Rutherford finishing on 77 in an unbroken stand with Peter Fulton.
"It can't get any worse, you can say that," added Trott.
"But there's no place for feeling sorry for ourselves or thinking we didn't get the rub of the green, because you earn that in cricket.
"You earn the right to put the opposition under pressure, and we didn't do that today."
The displeasure of Andy Flower is a given - although Trott was unsure immediately after close of play whether the England coach was likely to borrow from the Sir Alex Ferguson manual in his stumps debrief.
"Andy is pretty philosophical, but he knows the right time to put his foot down and say 'that's not good enough'," he said.
"I'm not particularly happy with how things went - I don't think anyone is - but I don't think there is the need for a 'hairdryer' treatment.
"It's the first day of a three-Test series. There are 13 days of Test cricket left, and we hope we can win those."
After a washout yesterday, England may yet be saved by more forecast bad weather.
New Zealand, however, could hardly have done any more so far to make a nonsense of all those predictions that England would surely coast to series victory here.
Wagner, South Africa-born but an adoptive son of Otago, was one of those with most reason for satisfaction.
He said: "That was pretty special, playing (a Test) in front of my home crowd and as a New Zealander in New Zealand for the first time."
Among his wickets was Kevin Pietersen, for the second time in as many innings and this time for a golden duck - to his understandable delight.
"Getting Kevin's wicket was massive in the warm-up game," added the left-arm seamer.
"But getting it in a Test is even better."
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